A Question of Covenants

© By Gerald Dawe

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28 September 1913

The Patriotic turns to face
an invisible sea. From Castle Place
thousands swarm through side-streets
and along the unprotected quays just
to glimpse Carson, gaunt as usual,
who watches the surge of people
call, ‘Don’t leave us. You mustn’t leave us’,
and in the searchlight’s beam,
his figure arched across the upper deck,
he shouts he will come back
and, if necessary, fight this time.

It is what they came to hear
in the dark September night.
As the Patriotic sails out
Union colours burst in rockets
and bonfires scar the hills
he departs from, a stranger to both sides
of the lough’s widening mouth
and the crowd’s distant singing
‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘God Save the King’.

© Gerald Dawe, A Question of Covenants, 1985, complete text,The Lundys Letter, 1985, The Gallery Press.

Gerald Dawe here describes the huge following that Sir Edward Carson attracted in 1913 when he threatened war against Britain to defend the Union.

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